"Everyone else's parents let them... that's not fair"

We recently had our out of state family stay with us for the week during the holidays. My kids’ cousin pretty much has free reign on her phone and tablet, and no parental settings what-so-ever are enforced. I didn’t make a big deal about this, because she’s not my child; Her parents definitely parent much differently than I do. I did try to be “cool parent” and let up a bit on the screen time limits. It was holiday, after all, and the kids were gaming together a lot on their tablets and having a good time, so mine got more time than they usually do during school.

After their cousin left, my oldest came to me and mentioned unhappily that their cousin made some comments about how we limit screen time and put a bedtime on their devices. My oldest basically implied that it’s not fair that we make their tablets shut off for bedtime (which was 11pm-6am during the break). Backstory: we’ve had several instances where if limits are off for whatever reason, my oldest will stay up all night and binge videos for hours. Even though they know they aren’t supposed to, they will sneak and use all the precious screen time they can. We’ve had several talks about why this is not healthy, sleep is good for them, etc. They simply cannot self regulate.

I suppose I am just frustrated for feeling like “the mean parent” because I make their devices shut down for bedtime. I don’t feel I even have that strict of settings in place: I approve every app they’ve ever requested, they have full browser use (with adult website filter on), really the only settings in place are no use during late night and adult website filters. I feel that’s very lenient compared to others who I’ve heard don’t allow their teens to even use Safari or the browser.

Please tell me I’m not the only one. Why is this so hard? Teens need sleep and not to be using their screens all night, right? I know they are young and not matured yet, but surely they must understand this is for their own health, right? I’m sad that because others get no supervision, use their phones all night, and get into who-knows-what inappropriate stuff that I’M the bad guy. :frowning:

You are not alone! We have very similar rules in our house and my 14yo will do the same thing binging all night if I didn’t keep track of her device usage.

I have great kids who love to push boundaries. It is so frustrating at times but I’m also encouraged because they will be the ones to later challenge the status quo among their peers.

I’m trying to find the balance between controlling access and teaching my kids to self regulate. I know from experience that if I’m responsible for forcing them to follow the rules they won’t actually learn to manage their own boundaries. But if I don’t watch they push the boundaries as much as they possibly can.

What has worked for us is to have family meetings where we layout specifically what we are concerned with (health, school performance, addiction to media, etc.) then force them to figure out how to address those concerns. They come up with the rules and how we measure them (we keep veto rights but don’t really use them). Then we make our kids periodically evaluate their performance and suggest changes or adjustments they need to make. This forces them to pay attention and take ownership of the outcome without us being tyrants. It also teaches them how to think critically about their behavior and the kind of person they want to be.

We still need to get better at follow up and evaluation but honestly even just having the conversation and putting the decision making on them has made a big difference.


Same here!! Definitely not alone! I monitor and go through my child’s phone, her apps and if she can talk to people she doesn’t know, like snap chat, the app doesn’t get approved. I sat with her for an entire day and had her watch To Catch a Preditor, Dateline used to show them when we had real TV. Now you can find them on YouTube. Kids think they are untouchable. It won’t happen to them and we’re overreacting. Same with child trafficking. But everything is desensitized. It’s real. It’s happening. So is cyber bullying. We as parents have to stay shot the game somehow.


You are absolutely not alone. My children don’t have any sort of social media on their phones, they have time restrictions AND settings that are appropriate for their age. My son told me that people made fun of him (his friends) that he didn’t have social media. He is 15 years old. I said to him “now how do you think you would feel if it happened behind your back online?”. If someone is going to bully…let them do it to your face. People need to learn how to be social. Children need to learn disappointment. Children need to learn how to be patient. These are life long skills that have been lost and our society is paying greatly for it right now. I am not a strict parent and I thank God I did not have these issues with social media when I was a kid. My kids earn extra time on their phones and are allowed to fail and go over the limit sometimes. That’s when they are taught the reason for restrictions. If my kid is crabby the next day because I allowed them fewer restrictions, I make it an example and they learn that the only person to be mad at is themselves for not paying attention to their body… and the restrictions are placed once again and they earn it back.

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You can use me as the Boogeyman if you like - my kids had pretty free range on our home computers (adult filters on). They binge watched and my 12yo daughter found her way to online grownup chatrooms (altering her google birthday to say she was 20). Now they have No device usage unless specifically requested and approved. They have NO personal phones. NO tablets. NOTHING. They are authorized maximum 2 hours streaming tv time unless I approve otherwise. They are 12 and 10. Tell em to stick to the rules or the Boogeyman might appear in their house, too. There are meaner parents out there. Tell em not to make you that parent. :smiling_imp:


Agree with you. I have an 11yr old son and he has time limits, no social media, and when he’s in trouble we restrict it down to almost nothing until he earns it back.
With my son, I focus on making sure he knows my intent. It is to keep him safe, away from the drama, the depression it causes, and to try and be productive with his time. This means the rest of the household has to put their phones down too! (Parents) :slight_smile:
We not only watch movies about kidnappings, school shootings, how to catch a predator, social media bullying, suicides, etc…but I try and stay with the true stories or documentaries. I tell him the facts around the # of missing kids just in the US and what they actually do to you. Human/sex trafficking/rape/murder…he needs to be aware and not think I’m using it as a scare tactic…but because of my unconditional love for him and to prepare him for a better life.

We can’t always be there, so I’m trying to educate him as much as I can so he makes the best decision when I’m not there.

Keep doing what you are doing!

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